By Joanne Liou, associate editor
Wärtsilä is providing the fuel systems – the propellers, the controls and the wheelhouse, in addition to the electrical systems – for six LNG-powered platform supply vessels (PSVs) being built by Harvey Gulf International Marine. Paul Glandt, General Manager Ship Power Marketing, Americas, for Wärtsilä, addressed four concerns of LNG as a marine fuel at the 2014 OTC in Houston on 6 May.
- Gas-engine technology
Addressing concerns about whether gas-engine technology will work, Wärtsilä said it has been deploying gas engine for 27 years. “We have millions of operating hours,” Mr Glandt said. “We started off with the gas-diesel engine back in the ‘80s – primarily a high-pressure gas injection run on a diesel cycle, and we came back then with a spark gas, primarily using a spark plug to ignite the gas.” The most advances have been made in dual-fuel technology for two-stroke, slow-speed engines. Last month, Wärtsilä introduced the W46DF, a 460-mm bore engine running on dual fuel. The engine can be run on natural gas, heavy fuel oil or marine diesel oil.
- Security of LNG supply
Mr Glandt referred to a report issued by ABS earlier this year to support the security of LNG as a fuel. Looking primarily at North America, exponential growth is expected in the LNG market, he said. “What’s interesting is the suppliers of LNG are even stepping up to the plate. Vessel owners are getting assurances that if (the supplier) can’t deliver the LNG, they’ll deliver the diesel fuel at the same price. That same price, being LNG, is lower cost in the US than we see diesel fuel.”
- Pricing volatility
Concerns about price spikes fluctuations have remained constant for customers. US Energy Information Agency forecasts for natural gas prices continue to go down, Mr Glandt said. However, “you realize forecasts are as good as the moment you made them. We see the forecast in 2014 lowest, and that’s because of the glut of gas we have in the US. We see it as a bargain as a basis compared to diesel fuel and other fuels.”
- Shipyard construction
The PSVs being built by Harvey Gulf will be the first US-flagged ship running on LNG. Wärtsilä has placed a project manager on site focusing on risk management. With such a major capital project, cost overruns are a major concern. Based on their experience and involvement, Wärtsilä has been able to identify and eliminate some risks with the project.